The health and fitness industries are awash with tips to look and feel better than ever. But one magic bullet that people often overlook is the comfort of having a canine friend at home. Here are six reasons to get a dog – either for the first time, or as a new addition to the home.

Dogs alleviate loneliness

Studies show that loneliness can be one of the biggest contributors to depression, and that depression has the ability to seriously affect our health. This is an especially salient point during COVID-19; a time at which people are brushing up against the reality of enforced solitude and social distancing.

…But dogs also help you meet friends

As we come out of lockdown, a dog can be great for your social life. A Huffington Post article on the topic speculates that dog owners are more likely to make friends, since they speak with fellow owners – and strangers – during walks. As we get older and our social circle naturally shrinks, a dog is a great social lubricant.

Dogs get us into a routine

People in retirement are often guilty of letting time slide through their fingers, and of failing to really live life. No matter your age, a dog gives your day structure. It needs to be fed, cared for and exercised. By providing for your canine friend, you give yourself a modicum of structure too, and if you’re at retirement age, this is especially important.

Dogs get us fit

A 30 minute walk a day can do wonders for heart health, reducing visits to the doctor and weaning people off medication. Exercise really is a godsend – and it’s totally free. Getting a dog will ramp up the exercise you do and will ensure you stick to this regimen too.

Help us when we’re ill

Studies abound that suggest we’re more likely to recover from serious illness if we have a canine friend to return home to. Even survivors of something as serious as heart attacks are more likely to get back on their feet, simply because they’ve got a dog at home that they know they need to take care of. In short, dogs give our lives purpose, and when we have purpose we’re stronger for it.

Keep us stress-free

Scientists have long speculated that dogs are a form of therapy, in part because they zap away anxiety and actually reduce blood pressure. The mechanism for this magic? Increasing levels of serotonin and dopamine, which boost feelings of wellbeing.

What’s more – dogs can be very effective at keeping couples together when there’s tension. Having a third-party to focus your attention on lowers the intensity of the marital dispute; plus, dogs often perk up and do the funniest things just when the mood is at its lowest. In effect? They provide an ice breaker that neatly slices through the tension and keeps everything in perspective.

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